Taking Control of Your Schedule

A post on Signal vs. Noise reminded me of an article that I read a little while ago on fixed schedule productivity. The article is fairly long but the point of it is very simple: decide when and how much you want to work and build your schedule around that.

Sounds almost too easy, but I imagine it’s also fairly rare that people are able to work on their own schedule. First, many of us work for somebody else who sets our schedule (or some of it) for us. Second, we generally allow external forces to control what we do during the work day. I think both of these obstacles can be overcome, at least to some degree.

Even if you work for an employer, you probably have more control of your time than you might think. Do you really need to attend every meeting that you’re invited to? Usually it’s possible to convince the caller of a meeting that your attendance isn’t necessary if that’s the truth. Also it’s generally possible to decide what kinds of work you want to do at different times of the day. Feel better getting email over with first thing? You can probably get away with checking in the morning and not touching email again until a review closer to the end of the day. Like to do creative work in a big chunk of time? Put it in your schedule so you won’t be available for meetings and such during that time.

As for letting external forces control our time: this really has to do with our perception of time rather than any reality. Think about the way you approach time, whether you’re generally overwhelmed or feel in control, have too much time on your hands or too little. I would guess that this perception of time stays with you whether you’re at work, or at home or even on vacation.

The key I think is to approach time as a background reality, a landscape within which we all live. Where we choose to go within that landscape is up to us.

1 Comment »

  1. Jennifer Zurick-Witte Said,

    June 2, 2010 @ 3:03 pm

    I love this article. It’s so simple, but it cuts to the heart of taking responsibility for our relationship to time. I remember reading once that our time is the only thing worth working for – time to do the things that matter to us.

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